If we build it they will come ……….
The MLB season , has started with some gusto and Opening Day , saw some record crowds for a number of the day’s schedule contests. Defending World Series champions the Boston Red Sox started the defense of their title with a 2-1 loss to divisional rivals the Baltimore Orioles in a contest played at Camden Yards in Baltimore , Maryland . From my own standpoint , seeking to speculate on who might end up winning this season’s title , this early in the season , is akin to counting grains of sand on the beach, while the tide comes in . It is of benefit to no one, at the time of the exercise!
This season should be one of growth among many of the young stars who blossomed in terms of their play last season and it will be interesting to see how the AL and NL Rookies of the Year from 2013 acquit themselves for their respective teams as they seek to make themselves Big League stars , while looking to be well-compensated for their play. Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays , will certainly be looking to add to a robust season for the team from 2013, while his NL counterpart Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins will certainly look beyond being the only bright spot on what was a lackluster team last season, summed up by the Marlins’ last place finish in the NL East and being completely out of contention for a wildcard berth for the majority of last season.
In many respects I believe that this season, will be one of even more struggles for the Miami Marlins , as Mike Redmond and his managerial staff try to steer this team into contention within the division , which is likely to be more competitive, after the issues now encompassing the Atlanta Braves , with the team having lost two of their prominent starting players due preseason injuries . In all likelihood we could very well see something of shift in the favoring of the Braves to repeat as divisional champions , to perhaps the Washington Nationals being seen as the new prohibitive favorites within the NL East for the title this season.
Braves’ pitcher Brandon Beachy is out for the season , but the loss of Kris Medlen and Mike Minor might be the toughest losses to take, as both played prominent roles in the team’s success during 2013 . Yet, with not even the first ten games of their schedule having been contested , Atlanta’s disabled list , reads like the bulletin board from a hospital triage unit. Atlanta began its season with a well-deserved victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee , Wisconsin , with the home team ….. succumbing to their opponents in defeat 5-2. The two teams will meet again on Wednesday afternoon in game two of their two-game series , before Atlanta departs to take on the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital for a trio of games starting on Friday , 4th April and culminating with the final game of that trilogy on Sunday, 6th April .
For the Tampa Bay Rays, I expect this to be a make or break season and therein once again lies the dilemma as it relates to the organization. Cost-cutting by way of team payroll , has very much played a part in the Rays’ subsistence living and success in recent years . GM Andrew Friedman continues to seek out bargain basement free agents to place around a core group of players and Joe Maddon and his staff . continue to work miracles. My question is, beyond that success, how is it that in the eight years that Maddon has managed the team , he has only one the AL Manager of the Year Award twice, in 2008 and 2011 ? There are few managers in either league with Maddon’s managerial acumen, that would have been able to achieve the extraordinary success that he has attained, with the menial resources afforded him by the franchise. Yet, around the game the short-sightedness and stupidity being shown by alleged observers and fans alike have shown that their knowledge and a complete lack of understanding as to the economics of the game of baseball .
The Rays began their season with a 9-2 home victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on the 31st March , only to then follow-up that win with a loss the Blue Jays , with a . lackluster performance in losing 4-2 on Tuesday afternoon. The final leg of their opening trilogy, will take place on Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field , when Matt Moore takes the mound to face Mark Buehrle in their contest. A robust start to the season, I believe is needed for the Tampa Bay Rays, if they are to gain any semblance of success , as they can ill-afford to continue to show the type inconsistency exhibited last season , that eventually led to their demise , where they were summarily dispatched by the Boston Red Sox with consummate ease in the ALDS , in four games , 3-1.
Just when you thought that the idiocy of last season might well have been abated , baseball still proves again, that they have learned absolutely nothing from their mistakes . Having topped $ 3 billion last season for the Opening Day payroll, Team payroll, in 2014, MLB has once again trumped itself, teams’ financial commitment to their players, will exceed that figure, with the Los Angeles Dodgers trumping the other twenty-nine teams in the league , with a payroll of just over $235 million, with pitcher, Zach Greinke being the highest-salaried player on the roster , but by no means having the most lucrative contract , either in its length or value . Greinke’s six-year, $144 million deal , was surpassed during the preseason, when team President Stan Kasten and GM Ned Colletti negotiated the deal that allowed Clayton Kershaw the reigning Cy Young Award winner, a deal that makes him the highest paid pitcher in the game of baseball, as well as being one the highest paid players in the game. Somewhat surprisingly, this has been the first time, in several years, that the New York Yankees have not held the honor of being the team with the highest payroll in baseball.
Don Mattingly, his staff and the Dodgers’ team, got off to a great start, with their opening series, in defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks in their two game series played in Brisbane , Australia, . As to the relevance of those two games being played in the Antipodes region , I can only surmise, that it comes about, with the commissioner wishing to see the growth of the game “Down Under” . With just over a year to go, before he steps down from his position , Bud Selig will be looking to and hoping that the game of baseball, is still not mired, deep in controversy . Let’s just say , his handling of the litany of player suspensions, due to the prolific use of PED’s was poorly executed , with the MLBPA at times , being able to subvert the league’s form of justice. Tony Clark , has succeeded the late Michael Weiner, as the union’s Executive Director and the relationship between the league hierarchy and the union, remains strained and often contentious. What next, using a Band Aid to cover a gunshot wound to the abdomen, while the victim is still bleeding profusely ?
Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will take to the mound , on Wednesday night , when he faces Tyson Ross of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park , in San Diego, California, In what should be a very good contest , we can assume that the Padres will seek to it something of a competitive affair , unlike their season-long series of last year, when the Dodgers were simply dominant throughout the season within the NL West. Anything short of a deep playoff run and a World Series’ berth at the end of it all, will have to be viewed as a major disappointment for the Dodgers’ organization and their fans in particular . High hopes of last season, simply evaporated , when they wilted, showing little effort against the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS . There is an abundance of pitching </a and offense to the makeup of this Dodgers’ team, but the issue to my mind , must be , who is seen as the actual leader of this lineup and can be looked upon to be not only vocal, but also show it , with regard to their play? Is it Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp , Carl Crawford , or anyone of their litany of pitchers ? That has to be the defining element and question that still remains unanswered by Don Mattingly and by the likes of joint-owners , Magic Johnson , Peter Guber , Mark Walter and Todd Boehly , who paid the record sum of $2.156 billion , for the apparent privilege of owning this proud franchise .
Young stars, such as, Mike Trout, Yasiel Puig , Jose Fernandez and Wil Myers were certainly making impacts for their teams, as I alluded to earlier. I expect this season to be no different , but will it be to the point, where their ball-clubs will become greatly reliant on the prowess of their young rookies ? For the likes of Jose Abreu, Aaron Barrett , Tyler Collins , Alex Guerrero , Mario Hollands, Seth Rosin, Bo Schultz , Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas . Whether or not they make it , will be totally dependent upon the determination that they each show , while still being coached in the intricacies and rudiments of the game of baseball . An AL and NL Rookie of the Year is likely to come out of the field mentioned or it could come from a player, who is called up at some point later in the season. Either way, it will be interesting to see what these young players are able to offer, once they have had their ” first taste” of the Majors.
As always, the biggest draw in the game, remain the big market teams and amongst those others who have loyal fans. Without a doubt, last season, it should not come as any surprise that in total home attendance , it was left to the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers , St Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants , New York Yankees and Texas Rangers to lead the field . The aforementioned teams were amongst a list of eight ball-clubs that drew more than 3 million fans to their respective ballparks . The lowest figure in terms of overall attendance were those of the Tampa Bay Rays , with just over 1,500,000 attendees , at an average of just over 18,600 per home game schedule, in attendance at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida in 2013. Simply put, the front office cannot try to justify why a new ballpark is needed, when they are still drawing such low crowds, for each of their home games. Inasmuch, as their fans continue to decry the fact that, their present venue is archaic.
There remains no real reason to suggest that a new ballpark is likely to attract an even larger crowd , where in truth, the real hardcore fan-base of the franchise is at best , no more than 15,000 to 18,000 devoutly loyal fans . I have yet to hear, a Tampa Bay Rays’ fan explain succinctly , an argument as to why a new ballpark can and should be built, at the local taxpayers’ expense. Amongst the local media market , where intelligence is not of the highest order, the only reason for their proposing a new ballpark, is simply not to run afoul of the ownership group , led by Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman , whose interviews within the local media market are rare and more inconsequential than anything else . More often than not, it is either Silverman or Sternberg , pleading for the local municipality to make the financial outlay for a new stadium , without the owners themselves, offering something in good faith , never mind the fact , that their lease on Tropicana Field is not due to expire until 2027 . One would have thought that whoever provided the legal counsel to both Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman, as the lead managing partners, would have advised them to seek their renegotiating the lease on the ballpark at the time of their purchasing the team, from then owner , Vince Naimoli . I guess in large part, Sternberg sought to own a Major League Baseball, team, showing his naiveté as an alleged businessman, when buying that franchise. Monkey see, monkey do , there is no other way to explain that sort of utter stupidity !
Picture gallery .
With Bud Selig due to step down at the end of this baseball season , do you believe that he will leave the game in a better position than he found it in , having succeeded Francis ‘Faye’ Vincent ? Also, with the escalating salaries of the players , do you believe that is now time for baseball to adopt a hard salary cap at the top-end and lower-end of the teams’ payroll scale ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be of relevance to the subject matter , as you see fit .
Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
(1) Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Baltimore. Baltimore would defeat the Red Sox 2-1 . AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …
(2) Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones , bottom, collides with Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia after being forced out on a ground ball by Chris Davis in the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Baltimore. Davis was safe at first. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …..
(3) Wil Myers ,left, of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins’ Jose Fernandez were last season’s AL and NL Rookies of the Year , with both players having made impactful efforts for their respective teams during 2013. Myers and Fernandez will be looking build on the foundations laid , by improving this year , in terms of their play. Getty Images / Sean Leahy …..
(4) Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman is greeted by teammates after hitting a solo home run off of Milwaukee Brewers’ Zach Duke during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Milwaukee. Both pitchers in this contest were on course for a no-hitter before being broken up by the opposing offenses . AP Photo/Tom Lynn …
(5) Los Angeles GM Ned Colletti ,left , is seen here alongside team President and minority owner Stan Kasten . The two front office executives this off-season offered a lucrative contract to pitcher Clayton Kershaw , the 2013 NL Cy Young Award winner , making him the highest paid player on the Dodgers’ roster and amongst the highest paid players in the game. Having lost the 2013 NLCS in a lopsided series’ defeat , the franchise bolstered their team with several off-season moves , meanwhile looking for improved seasons in 2014 from Yasiel Puig , Adrian Gonzalez , Carl Crawford , Zach Greinke , Hanley Ramirez , Andre Ethier and Chone Figgins . The ball-club will also be looking to make a successful defense of their 2013 NL West divisional title , won with a great deal of ease in a dominant fashion last season. AP Photo / Matthew Morris …..
(6) Zack Greinke and teammate , Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers in whom the ball-club have guaranteed and committed over $ 365 million . The two pitchers are amongst the highest paid players on the team’s roster and two of the highest paid starting pitchers in baseball, as well as having to of themost lucrative contracts amongst starting pitchers and players overall . The team’s success this season will be greatly dependent on both having career years if the Los Angeles Dodgers are to have any chance of winning their first World Series’ title in over twenty-five years. Getty Images / Greg Holt …..
(7) Rookie , Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox is seen here with the team’s general manager , Rick Hahn. The player made his debut with the team in their game against the Minnesota Twins on the 31st March , 2014 at US Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois,. AP Photo / Anthony Smith …..
(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ managing partner , Stuart Sternberg, left is seen here alongside Matthew Silverman , GM Andrew Friedman and the team’s manager Joe Maddon , far right. The franchise’s home field Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida is deemed archaic by current standards . With the ownership group pleading with the city of Petersburg for a new venue , albeit that the lease to their current venue does not expire until 2027, neither side is somehow prepared to accede to the other by seeking out an agreement where a compromise can be reached . Sternberg and his partners would like to see the city build a multifaceted 40,000 seat venue at their municipality’s expense , with their being no proposal from the ball-club to fund any part of the venture. Commissioner Bud Selig , whom , having assisted the Miami Marlins , New York Mets and New York Yankees to each obtain a new ballpark in the past six years, has been of no assistance to the AL East based franchise , also having been critical of team and stating that they will be never be allowed to stage an All Star Game until a new stadium is built . Selig has not only been critical of the Tampa Bay Rays over the issue of a new venue , but he has been extremely critical of the city of St Petersburg , the former mayor , Bill Foster , recently his successor Rick Kriserman and the Pinellas County government and their reluctance to build a venue for the MLB franchise . It might not have occurred to the commissioner that the state of Florida is still in the midst of an economic crisis , where state , county and municipalities are facing severe budget deficits , as well as high unemployment rates that are above the national average . Tampa Bay Times/ Keith Marsh ….
(9) Bud Selig , MLB Commissioner, who is due step down from his position as the league’s highest ranking executive in February 2015 , after almost twenty-five years in the current position , having first been the acting commissioner in 1992 , then accepting the position full-time in 1998. Often criticized for his managerial style and lack of communicative skills, his biggest blight, was in curtailing the 1994 MLB season , which brought about a league wide stoppage and strike . The MLBPA (Players’ Union) , then led by Donald Fehr , who now holds a similar position within the Players’ Union (NHLPA) of the NHL and the commissioner were often at loggerheads on a wide variety of issues and the distrust between the league hierarchy and the union, still remains to this day , in spite of the often asinine comments forthcoming from both sides. Getty Images/ Mark Snow …..
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MLB schedule 2nd April , 2014
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